“Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams
Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions! IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman recently stated “taxpayers should be careful and avoid falling into a trap with the Dirty Dozen. Scam artists will tempt people in-person, on-line and by e-mail with misleading promises about lost refunds and free money. Don’t be fooled by these scams.”
The Dirty Dozen are the 12 most prevalent scams detected by the IRS. Taxpayers should take precautions to avoid these and other suspicious activities of scam artists. The following scams make up the IRS’s 2014 “Dirty Dozen” listing (courtesy of IRS.gov).
- Identity Theft. Topping this year’s list is identity theft. The IRS is increasingly seeing identity thieves looking for ways to use a legitimate taxpayer’s identity and personal information to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent re-fund.
- Pervasive Telephone Scams. The IRS has seen a recent increase in local phone scams across the country, with callers pretending to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims. These phone scams include instances where callers say the victims owe money or are entitled to a huge refund. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do: If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
- Phishing. Phishing is a scam typically carried out with the help of unsolicited email or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site to lure potential victims and prompt them to provide valuable personal and financial information that can be used to commit identity or financial theft.
- “Free Money.” Scammers have been preying on low-income individuals and the elderly by posting flyers in community churches promising that tax returns can be filed with little or no documentation to receive “free money” from the IRS or Social Security Administration.
- Return Preparer Fraud. Questionable return preparers have been known to skim off their clients’ refunds, charge inflated fees for return preparation services, and attract new clients by promising guaranteed or inflated refunds.
- Hiding Income Offshore. Individuals continue to try to avoid paying U.S. taxes by illegally hiding income in off-shore accounts or using offshore debit cards, credit cards, wire transfers, foreign trusts, employee leasing schemes, private annuities, or insurance plans.
- Impersonation of Charitable Organizations. Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Scam artists can use a variety of tactics. Some scammers operating bogus charities may contact people by telephone or email to solicit money or financial information. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.
- False/Inflated Income and Expenses. This tactic is used by scam artists who file false or misleading returns to claim refunds they are not entitled to receive. One popular scam is to report income that was never earned to obtain refundable credits.
- Frivolous Arguments. Frivolous scheme promoters encourage people to make unreasonable and unfounded claims to avoid paying taxes.
- Falsely Claiming Zero Wages. Filing a phony wage-related or income-related information return to replace a legitimate information return has been used as an illegal method to lower the amount of taxes owed.
- Abusive Tax Structures. What is an abusive scheme? The Abusive Tax Schemes program encompasses violations of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and related statutes where multiple flow-through entities are used as an integral part of the taxpayer’s scheme to evade taxes. The schemes are usually complex involving multi-layer transactions for the purpose of concealing the true nature and ownership of the taxable income and/or assets.
- Misuse of Trusts. Unscrupulous promoters have urged taxpayers to transfer assets into trusts, promising reduced taxable income, deductions for personal expenses, and reduced estate or gift taxes that don’t deliver as promised.
Please contact us if you are concerned about these or any other questionable activity.
Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!
Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Bedford Hills NY, Chappaqua NY, Harrison NY, Scarsdale NY, White Plains NY, Mt. Kisco NY, Pound Ridge NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.
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